The Queen will join former prisoners of war and veterans at a service on the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, when Japan surrendered and World War Two ended. …read more
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to pay tribute to those who served in the Far East during World War Two on the 70th anniversary of VJ Day. …read more
In a review of the government’s first 100 days in office, the doctors’ union the BMA says ministers have been chasing headlines rather than tackling the real issues facing the NHS in England …read more
A huge hole appears in one of Manchester city centre’s busiest roads after heavy rainfall. …read more
Two men are arrested after a woman’s body was found in a car boot in Greater Manchester. …read more
Great Britain achieve their best European Championships result as five boxers reach their respective finals in Bulgaria. …read more
The man shot dead outside his home in Belfast’s Short Strand area earlier this week had been told by police he was under threat from republicans. …read more
Leftwinger said his life has been a ‘moral opposition to nuclear weapons’, as he seeks to retrain Faslane workers for more peaceful endeavours to protect jobs
Jeremy Corbyn has said that Scottish Labour was wiped out by the Scottish National party (SNP) at the general election because its leadership failed to fight hard enough against austerity and the renewal of Trident.
Scottish Labour under Jim Murphy “was not chiming” with voters and young people, Corbyn told the Guardian as he embarked on a series of heavily attended leadership campaign rallies in Scottish cities.
Police launch a murder investigation after a 17-year-old boy dies in a fight in south London. …read more
The rider who died during a race at the Ulster Grand Prix on Saturday was Andy Lawson, from Arbroath. …read more
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said that there is “more that can be done to enhance the physical security” of the Channel Tunnel. …read more
There is a heavy police presence in Belfast city centre ahead of a contentious republican anti-internment parade on Sunday afternoon. …read more
‘Albert drops the eggs’ is not likely to make the headlines of The Sun given the frequency with which it occurs. For the zillionth time he managed the feat this morning, and there were those on the allotments who dared to question whether it is time to reconsider the allocation of duties. What the hens think is not on record, but I can only imagine what I would feel if the result of my labours was reduced to a yellow gunge by an old geezer with an aversion for watching his step. We mere humans retreated in despair to the hut as the magpies relieved the sunflowers of their fancy dressing.
The air was blue as we settled for our Yorkshire tea and Eric Pickles breakfast. And the mood was not improved by what we see as injustice on a grand scale. We have always believed in the old maxim about every man remaining innocent until proven guilty, but the police and media have of late combined to reverse it. Ever since the Savile affair they have delighted in making a name for themselves by ‘witch-hunting’ every well known person accused of child abuse, and if they happen to be dead so much the better.
This week’s events relating to Edward Heath echo last year’s search of Cliff Richard’s Berkshire home, down to its timing during the August ‘silly season’ when news is hard to come by. On that occasion the BBC was tipped off by the police and duly sent a helicopter to film what looked like a raid on Bin Laden. Twelve months on, Sir Cliff has been charged with nothing.
This week Wiltshire police repeated the pantomime. This time the target was former prime minister Edward Heath, and the venue his former home in Salisbury. Once again there was an appeal for “victims” to come forward. It now seems to be standard procedure for police forces investigating allegations of historic abuse to stage a piece of theatre. It is inevitably accompanied by reminders from the legal profession that “victims” are entitled to compensation. In the case of Savile one lawyer reminded potential clients that they would need evidence to show “that they were in a situation where the accused had the opportunity to commit an assault”. No mention of the fact that they also require evidence that the accused took advantage of that opportunity.
In the case of Edward Heath the whole frenzy appears to have been triggered by a very tenuous 20-year-old case involving an alleged brothel keeper. But even if she did genuinely believe there to be substance behind her allegations, she was not claiming to have been a victim. The woman’s ‘evidence’ seems merely to be hearsay. So it is with the comments of former colleagues who say that they always suspected something. So it is with all those who venture the view that any unmarried man who spent his spare time playing music and sailing must have been a repressed homosexual, and by extension someone with a sexual interest in underage boys. This isn’t evidence, it is gossip.
It is of course essential that anyone who tells the police that they were sexually assaulted as a child should be taken seriously, whatever the social and professional status of the alleged abuser. But the danger of public invitation is that it encourages fantasists and compensation-hunters. Undoubtedly many claims against Savile were genuine but does anyone really believe that of all the 200 new claims that followed the announcement that the High Court had approved a £3 million compensation scheme in February last year?
The truth is that we have gone from one extreme to another. At one extreme victims were routinely dismissed as liars. Now any claim, however spurious, leads to the public shaming of the alleged offender. When historic claims are made, they need to be subjected to a serious test before they are publicised in any way – not least by asking did the alleged victim make any complaint at the time and if not, why not?
We codgers hold no brief for such as Cliff Richard or Edward Heath. But we are appalled at the ‘Kangeroo court’ treatment afforded them. We hope that the forthcoming independent inquiry led by Justice Lowell Goddard will address this new trend.
In some ways the new national obsession with paedophilia is positive, but we mustn’t allow it to morph into a willingness to forget that everyone has the right to be proclaimed innocent until found guilty by twelve of their fellow citizens. And you may have noticed that a number of cases have been dismissed in recent weeks.
QUOTE FOR TODAY; ” At present the police and those politicians who have made a name for themselves by ‘witch-hunting’ too often exude an air of accusation. Those who are being accused deserve the presumption of innocence until proven guilty”…. Spectator, 8/8/15.
People in Calais have staged a protest against the construction of a new fence, built to stop migrants from getting to the UK via the Channel Tunnel. …read more
Jeremy Corbyn says Labour might restore Labour’s historic commitment to public ownership of industry – known as Clause IV – if he were party leader. …read more
The BBC man who was captured by Rommel …read more
England’s Justin Rose targets US PGA Championship title after claiming a share of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational lead. …read more
Labour “missed a trick” over the way it allowed people to register to vote for the party’s new leader, deputy leadership candidate Stella Creasy says. …read more
Manchester United hold on to complete an undramatic win against Tottenham thanks to Kyle Walker’s early own goal. …read more
Nic White’s late 10-point haul sees Australia beat New Zealand 27-19 to claim the Rugby Championship in Sydney. …read more
A man is charged with rape after an injured woman was found in a Carmarthenshire graveyard. …read more
” Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience”…. Victoria Holt.
” The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age”…. Lucille Ball.
” I have thousands of opinions still, but that is down from millions and as always, I know nothing”….Harold Brodkey.
” To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell”…Richard P Feynman.
” If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right”….Mary Kay Ash.
” When young, beware of fighting; when strong, beware of sex; and when old beware of possession”….Confucius.
” But if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself”….Carl Jung.
” Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable”…..Helen Keller.
” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”…. Martin Luther King.
” Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance”…. Woodrow Wilson.
” Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door”…. Saul Bellow.
” When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we did not love enough”….Maurice Maeterlinck.
” Wagner’s music is better than it sounds”…. Mark Twain.
” Others, when the bagpipe sings in the nose, cannot contain their urine”….William Shakespeare.
” Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands – and all you can do is scratch it”…..Thomas Beecham to a cellist.
” I’m a wonderful housekeeper. Every time I get a divorce, I keep the house”…. Zsa Zsa Gabor.
” We ought never do wrong when people are looking”…. Mark Twain.
” only two things are infinite – the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the former”….Albert Einstein.
” It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper”….Jerry Seinfeld.
” Every man has a House of Lords in his won head. Fears, prejudices, misconceptions – those are the peers, and they are hereditary”… David Lloyd George.
” The Lords: an ermine-lined dustbin, an up-market geriatric home with a faint smell of urine”….Austin Mitchell, MP.
” Listening to your heart is not simple. Finding out who you are is not simple. It takes a lot of hard work and courage to get to know who you are and what you want”….Sue Bender.
Playwright scores a hat-trick of plays on South Bank …read more
No mortar but still standing after hundreds of years …read more
The woman who came last out of 5,000 but still triumphed …read more
Party buses, limousines and rickshaw drivers should be vetted and governed by the same rules as London black cab drivers, councils say. …read more
A hotel guest was injured by a parasol sent flying by the owner’s helicopter, a court hears. …read more
A former mayor of Rotherham is found not guilty of claims he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl more than 25-years ago. …read more
Supporters of the closed charity Kids Company march in London, as the prime minister says the government was right to give the charity one more chance. …read more
PM David Cameron defends the government’s decision to give Kids Company £3m one week before its closure, saying it had been right to give the charity “one last chance”. …read more
Day of action planned for Friday in dispute over price paid to suppliers, which has seen supermarket milk supplies cleared out in ‘trolley dash’ protests
Farmers have stepped up their protests against supermarkets’ cuts in payments for milk, blockading a Morrisons distribution centre with tractors.
The protests come after famers urged consumers not to buy milk at Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Asda because three major milk processors – Arla, First Milk and Dairy Crest – all said they would cut the price they pay farmers.Continue reading...
One of the greatest joys in life for we old codgers is a good book, be it in hardback, paperback or Kindle format. This morning we have decided to recommend our latest read to you. It is a deeply moving book. A thought-provoking book. A brilliantly researched book. A book that will transport you to the killing fields of Vietnam, and the fate of one ordinary soldier who died there fighting for a cause that few understood and even fewer identified with. It is a masterpiece that illustrates graphically and painfully that behind every name on every memorial stone lies a story of eternal loss and eternal tears. And for what?
‘A Name On A Wall’ was written by Mark Byford, a former Head of BBC Journalism. This is his first book, the painstaking result of something that happened when he one morning paid a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. Suddenly a shaft of light illuminated one of the 58,282 names on The Wall. It was that of Larry Byford, remarkably similar to the name of his father, Lawry Byford, who served in the second World War. At that moment Mark decided to embark on a unique personal journey to discover the story of the name on The Wall.
Travelling more than 30,000 miles, from East Texas to Vietnam, he brought to life the lasting impact of the decision to enlist to “do his duty” of Larry Byford on his siblings, friends and the comrades who were with him on the day that he died in the summer of 1967. A casualty in the most divisive and bloody war of the twentieth century.
Larry Byford grew up in a small, poor community and his immersion into the rigours of army training are portrayed in colourful detail. In a matter of months he was on his way to a strange, hot, dangerous country of which he had never heard. Former comrades remember a cheerful, brave young man. Perhaps too brave. Part of a squad surrounding a cave in which Viet Com troops were hiding he watched as an unarmed officer entered the mouth of the cave to appeal for surrender to avoid pointless slaughter. Shots rang out. The officer fell to the ground. Larry rushed to his rescue and died alongside him.
Forty years after the final American combat troops left Vietnam, and in the light of the more recent controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the book asks what lessons, if any, have been learnt through the ultimate sacrifice of so many names on so many walls. It traces the behaviour of politicians of the day, switching regularly to the nightmare of young men battling in appalling conditions against an often unseen enemy, asking all the while just why they were there. In the telling the narrative questions fearlessly the true meaning of “duty” and “heroism”.
The author tracks down the still grieving siblings of Larry Byford, who break down when they remember the brother that went off to war and never returned alive. In the most moving chapter of all the author recalls the hours he spent sitting alone by the simple grave of his namesake. There he read again his research notes. In that quiet country graveyard a young man who died was born again in his mind’s eye. This was no mere name on a wall, it was a dashing, lovable lad who had so much to live for and died a brutal death as his fellow countrymen protested in their millions against the war that claimed him.
Few books move me to tears. Few provoke so many thoughts about the lot of lions led by donkeys or wars fought by poor men at the behest of rich ones. This one did for every name on every wall is but the tag line of a vale of tears.
If you only ever read one more book we urge you to make it this one.
QUOTE FOR TODAY ” We gaze at the names on war memorials and wonder, and now I know the reason why. This book is meticulous in its research, compelling in its structure. A marvellous book!”…Sir Michael Parkinson.
Harry Gruyaert’s pioneering colour photos on show in London …read more
Criminal proceedings against Lord Janner over allegations of child sexual abuse in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are to begin later. …read more
Talks on consultants’ pay and seven-day working …read more
A rare bonobo is born at the only zoo in the UK to successfully breed them. …read more
The driver who was behind the wheel of the bin lorry that crashed in Glasgow has been suspended by his employer. …read more
Paris St-Germain complete the signing of midfielder Angel Di Maria from Manchester United for £44.3m. …read more
An allegation about former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was not the reason why a case against a brothel keeper in the 1990s was halted, the case’s prosecutor says. …read more
A man is arrested by police investigating the murder of convicted timeshare fraudster John “Goldfinger” Palmer. …read more